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If you are watching other entrepreneurs score big with innovative ideas, impressive funding, big sales and IPOs, and wondering how to pivot into this fast-track world, a new program might be your ticket in. The kicker? You don’t even have to have an idea yet.
New Lab and Antler just launched their Startup Generator Program aimed to help would-be entrepreneurs with building their concept, finding the right partners, and raising capital. With $30 million to invest towards creating 200 Brooklyn-based companies over three years, the program will initially accept between 75-100 first round applicants into a nine-week program. The group will receive $6000 and the tools, mentors, classes, and support. After nine weeks, 15 to 20 entrepreneurs will be selected and receive $150,000 to turn their idea into reality.
The strategy of investing in entrepreneurs rather than a business plan stands apart from accelerator programs and venture capital funding. The aim is to reach a broader audience and inspire people who want to launch businesses but don’t know how to take that first step. It is also a great opportunity for anyone wanting to career pivot. “The New Lab ecosystem, to date, has been exposed to entrepreneurs and their company visions when they apply to be residents here. That means most of the time we don’t support entrepreneurs in the most vulnerable period of company development, the 8 to 12 months prior to any seed investment where early-stage concepts are explored, teams are built, and visions take hold,” explains New Lab CEO Shaun Stewart about the genesis of the program and collaboration with Antler. “Internally we were discussing how to help founders during this first chapter and ensure the New Lab ecosystem of support helps at all stages.
Below, New Lab CEO Shaun Steward and Antler Partner Tyler Norwood talk more about their new partnership and how you can be a part of it.
Sara Bliss: What is your goal with this partnership?
Shaun Stewart: We want to expand the impact of New Lab on the tech ecosystem overall. Today we support over 600 entrepreneurs, representing over 130 companies, but our relationship began after the entity was formed and they had already applied to New Lab. Our ultimate goal with this partnership is to expand our reach and impact to earlier in the entrepreneurial cycle, to those who are still considering what to build, who to build it with, and why. Our goal is to support them during that phase and every phase that comes after it.
Bliss: What are the requirements to apply?
Norwood: To start, all you need to do is submit your LinkedIn profile to apply online. Selection and acceptance into the program follows a streamlined process, beginning with a written assessment and culminating in a face-to-face interview with one of our partners, prior to being offered a spot in the cohort. If anyone wants to start a new venture, we can help accelerate their ability to build a great team, validate their business model, and raise capital.
Bliss: Can you explain how you will select applicants, and then how you will pair them with the appropriate co-founders or mentors?
Norwood: We select candidates based on their individual applications and interviews, while making sure that the cohort stays balanced across a number of factors, e.g. background, industry, and demographics. Founders have complete autonomy to decide who they want to start a company with. What we do is provide a cohort of 100 of the best talents from thousands of applications to select from, and a program that gives founders lots of opportunities to work and test relationships before making a final partnership decision.
Bliss: Do entrepreneurs have a commitment to give back or share profits when accepting the $150,000 investment?
Tyler There is no financial obligation for the individual founders to pay back the $6,000 stipend we invest, regardless of if they pass the investment committee or not. However, Antler | Newlab take a 10% share in the teams that receive the $150,000 investment.
Bliss: Why did you want to upend the typical VC strategy which invests in fleshed out concepts and existing businesses?
Stewart: Our mission since opening has been to support the vulnerable genius that is a frontier tech entrepreneur. Successfully building a startup is a terrifying and challenging feat on its own; doing so in frontier technology fields like robotics, bio fabrication, or ag tech, to name a few, is even more so. As a result, our interest and vision in partnering with Antler is less about upending the typical VC strategy, and more focused on providing appropriate early-stage support and programming to increase the likelihood of success from day one vs. our current starting point of interaction with these entrepreneurs. There is no denying that the investment opportunity this program presents is attractive and unique; the combination of spending hundreds of hours with entrepreneurs, prior to investment, while also providing a physical home at New Lab, access to our community, programming, and network for them to continue to scale, is obviously in our DNA.
May 23, 2019 at 02:35PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs